“The biggest thing for me, living with a disability, is that it’s not easy to get out and meet people,” says Adil Ghani, 25, from Beckenham.
Adil, who has attended St Christopher’s Young Adults Group for just over a year, continues, “Going to the hospice’s Young Adults Group takes away the headache, because they can manage things like personal care and feeding, so parents and carers can go home with their minds at ease. And then I can enjoy five or six hours of chit-chat with my friends!”
Feelings of isolation can be particularly tough on young people, which is why our Young Adults Group was established six years ago. Many of the group, who are aged between 18 and 30 and who have life-limiting and or complex health conditions, said that they didn’t have much opportunity to socialise with people of their own age. Up to 20 people now attend the regular Saturday sessions, supported by staff and volunteers.
There are lots of activities, like arts and music, but they are all optional, and you can just to socialise if you want
Adil continues, “The volunteers here tend to be quite young, so we can all relate easily, and the staff always enjoy a laugh and a joke. Before I came, I was sceptical that the group would be like others I’ve been to – too much like school! But here, there are lots of activities, like arts and music, but they are all optional, and you can just to socialise if you want. It gives you some freedom, and you are treated like an adult.”
As well as organising a trip to Nando’s, the Young Adults team have even supported members of the group to attend music festivals such as WOMAD.
“It might be an ordinary thing for most 25 year olds, but I’d never been able to go to a festival or clubbing so to go to WOMAD last year was amazing,” explains Adil. “We stayed up late and could do what we wanted, within reason! Parents and carers knew that we were well looked after by St Christopher’s, so we could just enjoy the experience.”
Phillipa Sellar is the Clinical Nurse Specialist who runs the Young Adults service. “Wellbeing is crucial for our group because if people feel connected and engaged with others, they are more likely to go along with their therapeutic regimes, like taking medication correctly,” says Phillipa. “If someone’s wellbeing is good, I can focus on clinical support and other ways to help them and their families.”
During the summer lockdown, volunteers have supported the Young Adults to keep in touch on apps like House Party with quizzes and music sessions, or through phone calls and FaceTime for those who find the sessions too tiring or challenging. As well as checking that everyone had sufficient food and medical supplies, avoiding isolation was key. Seeing friendly, familiar faces and having a chat has been priceless during a difficult time, not just for the Young Adults and their carers, but for our staff and volunteers too.
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